Who is your real-life superhero?
Do you have a real-life superhero? Maybe it’s a physician or nurse who took extra time to ease your child’s fears. Or maybe you know a patient who turned his or her health care crisis into a way to help others.
Tell us about it. Take the time to recognize an exceptional doctor, nurse, staff member, parent, or patient at Amplatz Children’s Hospital by telling us why he or she is your superhero.
Nicholas Koenig is and forever will be his parents’ superhero.
"Nicholas’ story of bravery and determination began when he was just days old. He was diagnosed with a heart condition known as pulmonary atresia and underwent open-heart surgery when he was less than a month old at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. After nine weeks of such an amazing and brave fight, we were finally able to bring Nicholas home to us in June 2007.
Nicholas was given, at age 2, a clean bill of health. Months later, after receiving the news of abnormal cells, Nicholas was immediately transported to the U by ambulance and a bone marrow biopsy confirmed our worst nightmare … Nicholas had acute myeloid leukemia.
As a family, we made U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital our home away from home as Nicholas underwent a very rigorous treatment. After five rounds of chemotherapy and six months of hospitalization, Nicholas returned home officially in remission on December 11, 2009. On August 13th, 2010, a bone marrow biopsy confirmed the cancer had returned. Nicholas underwent radiation and more chemotherapy to put him into remission and prepare him for a stem cell (cord blood) transplant. The transplant on November 15, 2010, was a success, and after another six-month stay at the hospital, Nicholas was able to come home the day before his sister’s 1st birthday.
About three months later weekly blood work showed a significant decrease in platelets, and a bone marrow biopsy confirmed a second relapse. The doctors prepared Nicholas' body for a second blood stem cell transplant by administering more chemo; only this time his body did not go into remission. After the doctors’ last try at another procedure in hopes to get Nicholas’ body into remission, we were told there was nothing else that could be done. One of the bravest superheroes that we were so blessed and honored to be parents of earned his wings in August 2011.
Nicholas was a fun, loving boy who always lit up a room with his smile and charm with his best friend Bernie the bear by his side. Nicholas especially enjoyed making his family, friends, nurses, and doctors laugh with his unique and unforgettable sense of humor. He always had a smile to share with us, even on his toughest days … every day he showed us just how brave a true superhero can be.
Nicholas continues inspire others through the Nicholas P. Koenig HERO Foundation and its mission: 'Shining a light of hope on families affected by pediatric cancer, with support of health-related research, education, and care.'"
—Shannon and Erik Koenig, Richmond, Minnesota
Andrew Grande, M.D., and Bharathidasan Jagadeesan, M.D., are the Kohler family’s superheroes.
"We found out our daughter, Lydia, had a rare brain disorder when she was only three weeks old. We were so scared and had no idea what the future was going to hold. We prayed that God would heal her or send doctors who knew just what to do. Dr. Grande and Dr. J were our answers to prayer. They admitted they had never seen anything like what Lydia had in someone so small, but they were going to do everything they could to help her. We were comforted knowing she was in good hands! They performed six risky operations on her tiny brain, spending hours and hours, both with her in the operating room and getting advice from other professionals. They were always willing to answer any questions we had, even going so far as to give us their personal cell numbers. We can't thank them enough for what they did for Lydia and for our family!
We also want to thank the amazing nursing staff in the pediatric ICU. During Lydia's stay, we always knew that she was being given the best care. One nurse in particular, Kyle, was always willing to answer our many questions,and even came in on a couple of his days off to care for Lydia. We are so grateful for the nurses at Amplatz! Thanks to these doctors and nurses, we now have a healthy and boisterous 2-year-old who is a joy to everyone she meets.
—Brandon, Anna, and Lydia Kohler, Minneapolis
Dr. Erick Bothun is Quinn Ossanna’s real-life superhero.
My son Quinn Ossanna, age 8, has a superhero … his name is Dr. Erick Bothun! He has done multiple eye surgeries on Quinn and saved his vision. He is our superhero!
—Sarah Ossanna, Quinn’s mom, Aberdeen, South Dakota
Emma Michael and the NICU staff are superheroes to Emma’s family.
"Emma is our family’s superhero--and the amazing NICU staff who cared for her! Emma was born 17 weeks too early, weighing 1 pound 6 ounces. She spent 133 long days (and nights) in the NICU at Amplatz, battling to breathe with underdeveloped lungs and fighting off meningitis and septicemia. We are forever indebted to the awesome NICU staff at Amplatz, and Emma’s huge grin reminds us every day of what a superhero she is!"
—Rebecca Michael, Emma’s mom, Bloomington, Minnesota
Dalton Hinman, CVICU nurses, Dr. James St. Louis, Dr. Daniel Gruenstein, and the rest of the cardiology team are superheroes to Craig and Kayla Hinman.
"Our little hero keeps on amazing us! Dalton is 18 months old and a year past his last heart surgery. He had a very rough start and seemed to find all hard roads to take to recovery. Since we have been home he is thriving! He loves his sisters and loves to make people laugh--a very busy little man. We are so thankful for him! Without the hardworking nurses, amazing doctors, and loving staff at Amplatz, our little hero may not have been here. THANK YOU ALL so much!"
—Craig and Kayla Hinman, Winner, South Dakota
Nurse Teresa’s superheroes are the brave kids she works with at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Kumar Belani’s real-life superheroes are his patients.
"My superhero is my 9-month-old daughter, Sadie. After being diagnosed with bilateral congenital cataracts at one day old, she has bravely battled and triumphed through 8 surgeries and 10 times under anesthesia. After her cataracts were removed by her doctor, Dr. Erick Bothun, at 5 and 6 weeks of age, she developed glaucoma in both eyes and suffered from very high pressures that put strain on her optical nerve and caused cracks in her corneas. After 4 unsuccessful glaucoma procedures, her glaucoma numbers are now healthy due to the placement of Baerveldt shunts (by Dr. Alayna Grajewski) in both eyes in November and December of 2013.
I would also like to thank Sadie’s heroes, Dr. Bothun and Dr. Grajewski, for their gentle care, amazing expertise, and support and encouragement for both Sadie and her parents … this has undoubtedly been the hardest battle we’ve ever faced. But we are so blessed to have the care of the entire Amplatz team fighting for our daughter’s sight!"
—Megan and Joel Mulder, Shakopee, Minnesota
Nurse Sally Rector is the Passow family’s superhero.
"Our granddaughter/niece/daughter Ava was in Sally Rector’s care a year ago for month. Every day, Sally bathed Ava and put a new bow in her hair. It touched us so much that a nurse would do something so personal to brighten our day for a patient that didn't talk, walk, or even realize what was going on, but her family sure did.
Our Ava Passow had GM1 [gangliosidosis, a neurologic genetic disorder] and was a patient at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital for over a year until she lost her life to this disease. So we decided to send bows and socks to Sally's floor to honor her tradition so others could enjoy the little things in life that we take for granted. It left an impression on our lives, and Sally made us realize that life is not just those who appreciate the big things but the small things she did for us. She said she purchased most of the bows herself and she did not expect anything in return. What a wonderful nurse you have.
Thank you, Sally Rector. Thank you again for your wonderful care for our Ava while we spent many days at Amplatz Children's Hospital. And to Jeanine Utz and Dr. [Chester] Whitley, thanks to you, also. "
—The Ava Passow family
"William Schmickle is a healthy 3-year-old boy who spent the first 277 days of his life in the Amplatz NICU. He was born at 23 weeks gestation and is the only survivor of triplet boys. He amazes us, and we are forever grateful for the love and care that he received."
—Julie Schmickle, Corcoran, Minnesota
"My superhero is my 16-month-old son, Jackson Haigh. He is a rare undiagnosed kiddo and inspires the world daily with his happiness about life. He goes through so much daily, and he smiles his way through every minute of it. He by far is my superhero!"
—Heather Haigh, Hugo, Minnesota